While you can certainly skate by handing your client a pair of 20 lb dumbbells and telling her to perform three sets of 15 basic suitcase squats and just keep adding weight as she gets stronger, there is good reason to add variation to this staple movement.
Firstly, clients like new challenges (generally) and keeping things interesting will keep them engaged with you as their trainer.
But more than that, the physics of exercise dictates that different squat positions and variations with resistance forces acting on the body from different places certainly will have an impact on which muscles are emphasized. If your client has overactive quads and sleepy glutes, then programming squats that place slightly more emphasis on hip extension may serve that client better than squats that make the knees work harder.
Why the Goblet Squat?
The goblet squat is basically a variation of the front squat. Placing the weight resistance at the front of the body forces the torso to remain more upright than placing the resistance either on the back or along side the body. When the torso is more upright and the resistance is above the feet (as should be with all squats), the quads have to work a little harder, and the glutes and low back? Not so much.
Execution of a Goblet Squat
There are plenty of choices when it comes to the source of resistance: kettlebell (upside down or right side up), dumbbell (long ways or short ways), looped resistance band (under feet and held together by hands under chin), cable (holding ropes), or even a sandbag can be held at chest height.
- Elbows should flare out comfortably to the sides.
- Choose a squat stance that allows the greatest depth for the client’s mobility; some individuals will find a wider stance, or slight foot turn out will allow more hip mobility.
- No matter the stance width and position, knees should still point in the same direction as the toes during movement.
- Take a breath in to engage the core muscles.
- Descend slowly into the squat holding the weight steady close to the chest, staying upright and keeping attention on engaging the glutes (even if they aren’t the star player in this movement, they still need to work!)
- Concentrate on keeping the spine neutral and knees stable.
- Drive through the heels and exhale while ascending back to start, where an extra contraction of the glutes is always nice.
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